Physical dominance and good discipline will be two of the key factors for the Springboks when they line up against Argentina in their second Rugby Championship Test in Nelson Mandela Bay on Saturday.
The Springboks kicked off their campaign with a 32-12 victory over the Argentinians last Saturday, but they expected a much-more competitive and passionate performance from the Pumas this week. The match kicks off at 5:05pm at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium and will be broadcast live on SuperSport.
Argentina coach Mario Ledesma made a bunch of changes to his team, which features a new-look backline and a few changes among the forwards as they look to bounce back, and Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said the Springboks would enter the match with great respect for their opponents.
“Argentina have selected a very strong and experienced squad, especially if one looks at a player like Tomas Lavanini [lock], who is one of the more experienced guys in the team,” said Stick.
“They are physical and play with emotion, so physically we need to pitch up. The team that has the best discipline and executes the physical side of the game the best will win.”
Stick added: “We have a balanced squad that can finish well with players like Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe and we can be physical, which is something we enjoy, so we are looking forward to it.”
With a triumphant series win over the British & Irish Lions behind them and a morale-boosting victory in their opening Castle Lager Rugby Championship match, Springbok captain Siya Kolisi said although they would love to win the competition, they would focus on one step at a time.
“We want to win every game and every competition we participate in,” said Kolisi.
“The same effort and process goes into each match we play regardless of who the opposition is. So, the end goal is always to win, but we will approach the competition one game at a time.
“We’ve made many sacrifices with some of the players not seeing their families, and obviously winning everything would be amazing, but it is a tough road to get to the top and an even harder staying there.”
Neither Stick nor Kolisi were fussy about where the team would play their remaining matches, following the cancellation of the clashes with New Zealand in Auckland and Dunedin at the end of next month after regulations on travel and quarantine were tightened by various state and national governments.
SA Rugby offered on Friday to host the remaining matches in the tournament on South African shores, and a decision on where the remaining fixtures will play out is expected to be made in due course.
“It would be nice to play in South Africa, but we are up for anything,” said Stick.
“As a team we are working hard and ticking the boxes and we’ll support any decision made [on where we play].
“We live in a beautiful country, and our diversity makes us stronger. We also have good stadiums, and we can host big events.
“It is a pity that we cannot have supporters, but these are challenging times, and we are living in a pandemic. But we’ve got what it takes [to host the rest of the tournament] and if it is hosted in SA, I have no doubt the teams will enjoy it.”
Kolisi added: “We can’t control everything, and this is one of those situations. We would love to stay here and play, and two teams are here already.
“But we didn’t play last year, so we are excited to be back on the field and we’ll play anywhere.”
The Springboks were scheduled to travel to Australia with the Pumas on Sunday night, but Stick said the team would remain together in Nelson Mandela Bay until a decision is made on the host venues for the remainder of the competition.
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